The era of hand-carved surfboards is ending, even in its birthplace of Southern California, as machines and cheap foreign labor take control of was once a thriving craft. Ten years ago, human hands shaped rigid foam to create 80% of American surfboards, but today that number is less than 20%. The LA Times visits one of the last surfboard artists.
Some aficionados want tariffs on boards from overseas. Imports more than quadrupled from 2004 to 2006, when nearly $29 million worth entered the US; domestic boards now make up just over two-thirds of the market. And even small manufacturers are employing design software and machine cutters. "The sport is losing a component of its charm," says a surf magazine publisher.